I found it odd to talk about myself: Indian national badminton team coach Pullela Gopichand

Titled Shuttler’s Flick: Making Every Match Count, Gopichand’s autobiography is co-written by writer, motivational speaker and firewalk instructor Priya Kumar.

Published: 15th November 2021 01:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th November 2021 01:32 AM   |  A+A-

Indian national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand

Indian national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Pullela Gopichand is finally set to tell the world his story. His journey has been no less of a rollercoaster — from being a player the country rooted for, nursing a painful injury and conquering in style to now being the Chief National Coach for the Indian national badminton team. 

Titled Shuttler’s Flick: Making Every Match Count, Gopichand’s autobiography is co-written by writer, motivational speaker and firewalk instructor Priya Kumar. She is known for her books License to Live and I Will Go with You. 

The shy superstar that Gopichand is, he opens up in an interview with CE ahead of the book’s release on November 16. He begins by pointing that Shuttler’s Flick is a collection of his memories or stories, which Priya has broken down into practical learnings for the reader. “The book, as one would expect, covers various incidents and phases in my life: right from my childhood to being a player and a coach. All these inputs have been put across as actionable points which one can learn from. Every chapter has something that the reader can take home,” Gopichand assures. So it is not just a book that compiles his life’s events, but will also help the reader grow. 

Initially, Gopichand did not want a book to be penned about him; and, given his demeanour, one would believe that. His fans definitely have his friend Sashidhar to thank, who persuaded him to work towards writing his story. “Shashidhar thought my story needed to be told, not for my own, but to be able to inspire many lives. My parents and well-wishers tried convincing me to write one too. I was honestly reluctant, but Shashidhar contacted Priya, who did an even better job at convincing me to open up, because I’m not somebody who is willing to recount things,” the shuttler shares. 

It was only after Priya pitched the idea of breaking down his life’s lessons that Gopichand considered giving the autobiography a shot. We ask him to take us through the process of writing the book and how much of an emotional journey it was to recollect memories. “It wasn’t much of an emotional ride, I’m not somebody who enjoys sitting down and reliving moments from years ago. I also don’t look at high points in my life as successes and low ones as failures. I strongly believe that everything happens for the good, if not for a reason. In fact, as I looked back on them, I was able to connect so many dots that led to where I am,” he says. 

The only issue of sorts he had was with having to put these memories out. “I found it odd to talk about myself,” he laughs. He credits Priya’s determined probing, good listening skills and her ability to ask the right questions the right way, which made writing this book a smooth journey.

The champion had more than a handful of good reasons to write Shuttler’s Flick. He addresses various issues that he had longed to open up about. “This book, apart from my story, talks about people’s understanding of sports today. The culture of sports in the country is all about wanting to dish out champions and has very little to do with a child’s basic need for wanting to play. In school, you don’t learn science or math with the vision to become a CV Raman or a Shakuntala Devi. You learn these subjects as part of growing up, because one needs to know the basics. But with sports, many pick up a racket to be the next big champion, to win medals and trophies. This unhealthy understanding of sports is what I try to address in my book.”

The book, he says, encapsulates his evolution from being a player to a champion, then a as coach running a successful academy and to now, in a post-pandemic sports world, which has allowed him to rethink the sports culture in the country. The Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy in Gachibowli has produced champions such as Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Srikanth Kidambi, Parupalli Kashyap, HS Prannoy, Sai Praneeth, Sameer Verma and many others. 

“Badminton, as a sport, has grown exponentially in popularity, over the past few years in India, thanks to the many medals our players have brought home. That said, it is still important that the sport is played not just so one can win, but benefit from it for what it is,” he concludes. 

There’s obviously the good news of a film biopic being made on Gopichand. Written by Saiwyn Quadras of Sonam Kapoor’s Neerja fame, it will be directed by Praveen Sattaru, who has projects such as Chandamama Kathalu and 11th Hour to his credit. 

Actor Sudheer Babu will play Gopichand in the Telugu-Hindi bilingual. Sudheer, a former No. 1 badminton player of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, had played alongside Gopichand as a doubles partner. We’re sure excited for both, the film and the book, which also has the voices of the coach’s students, mother and wife PVV Lakshmi.

On the sidelines
Pullela Gopichand recently launched Badmintonhub.in, an exclusive online badminton store co-founded by him along with sports entrepreneurs Afroze Khan and Ronak Sachdeva in response to the lack of structured retail market for quality badminton equipment. Badmintonhub.in aims to become the go-to platform for every shuttler, from beginners to pros. While it is available for online ordering now, it’ll soon get retail stores across major cities in India. “Last year, when everything was moving online, badminton players still had to rely on the unstructured retail market for their gear needs as there was no reliable e-commerce platform available. Badmintonhub.in is my humble effort to make world-class badminton gear easily accessible to the players in India.”

Ahead of the release of his autobiography Shuttler’s Flick: Making Every Match Count, tomorrow, national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand opens up to CE about the various aspects his book covers, the experience of writing it, the topics it addresses and more


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